Inscribed by the artist, at upper right, on a tablet held by angel, in pen and brown ink, "D / AMBIG. / D[onum].D."; beneath this, on a medaillon, "TE / M / PVS"; at center, on shield/instrument, "C"; at lower right, on shield?, "C [and a reversed C]"; in another hand, at lower right, in pen and dark brown ink, "monteigne"; on verso of lining, "N ̊50 / A.M"; in pen and black ink, "Andrea Mantegna"; in graphite, "24".
Beginning with a 1934 article and continuing in several later publications, James Byam Shaw collected together a group of drawings that he attributed to the artist then known as Bernardino Parentino.1 A classicizing painter and draftsman who worked in Mantua and Padua, the artist signed frescoes in the cloister of Santa Giustina in Padua with the inscription Opus Parentini. This now-lost inscription long ago led to the erroneous identification of him as the monk Bernardo Parentino. Documentary evidence has since clarified that the painter was not the long-lived Venetian monk Parentino but rather a Bernardino from Parenzo, in Croatia, who had worked for Francesco ii Gonzaga in Mantua in the 1480s and was then in Padua by the 1490s.2
The works assembled by Byam Shaw, with later additions by Wazbinski,3 are not entirely homogeneous. They exhibit the fascination with all’antica motifs so common to Mantuan and Paduan art in the wake of Squarcione, Mantegna, and Zoppo, and a stylistic affinity with the drawings of Mantegna and Zoppo, but it has long been noted that there seem to be two different hands responsible for the drawings. The Triumph of Jupiter, along with the Triumphal Procession with Elephant also at the Morgan (inv. 1981.87)4 and with drawings at the Teylers Museum5 and the Harvard University Art Museum,6 can be seen as one set, characterized by the draftsman’s palpable horror vacui and immoderate fondness for curling forms used in hair, shields, armor, and other objects. A second group of drawings that includes sheets in the British Museum,7 the Christ Church Picture Gallery, Oxford,8 and a private collection9 exhibits a more brittle line and a more normative approach to figures and spatial organization. Moreover, in an article focusing on the private collection Triumphal Procession with Oxen, Peter Windows has demonstrated convincing comparisons between Bernardino’s painted work and this second group of drawings, confirming that Bernardino probably is responsible for at least the latter set.10
The question remains whether the other body of drawings (i.e., those at the Morgan, Harvard, and Teylers) is indeed by a different artist in Bernardino’s immediate circle (occasionally identified by convention as the Master of the Scholz Triumphal Procession) or whether they instead represent Bernardino at a different moment in his career.11 A further complicating element is the engraving known as the Triumph of the Moon, by the Monogrammist PP, which is similar in its all’antica iconography and in the pose of several figures to the Morgan drawings.12 Yet it is the differently handled British Museum drawing that also bears an inscription PP and has thus led to the suggestion that the printmaker PP is Bernardino himself.13 The print is almost always dated to the decade or two after 1500, and both groups of drawings are placed around 1490, perhaps allowing for different phases of a single artist’s stylistic development over several decades. There is, however, simply not evidence enough to answer all of the questions that arise, and we might best follow Carel van Tuyll’s suggestion to preserve all the drawings “under the umbrella of Bernardino da Parenzo” until further discoveries are made.14
The present drawing has received passing mention in print only a few times but has not been much discussed. It is traditionally identified as a generic “Antique Scene” or “Roman Triumph.” While many of Bernardino’s drawings seem merely haphazard collections of classical motifs rather than specific subjects, the sickle at the foot of the bound man and the “Tempus” medallion probably indicate that the captive at left is Saturn. In that case, the drawing must be the Triumph of Jupiter, the moment when Saturn has been vanquished by his son Jupiter, thus also explaining the arriving Victory at upper right.15 This is not a subject otherwise depicted in the Renaissance, but it is not difficult to imagine it having been chosen to accompany the Teylers Triumph of Mars or the Morgan’s Triumphal Procession with Elephant, works clearly inspired by Mantegna’s Triumphs of Caesar series now in Hampton Court. Like those drawings, it seems not to have been a preparatory study for a painting or print but rather an end in itself, fitting into the broader group of autonomous drawings produced for humanist collectors in Padua and elsewhere.
- See Byam Shaw 1934, which appeared in a revised an expanded version in Byam Shaw 1968, 5–12; see also Byam Shaw 1976, 1:186–97.
- The most complete, though not exhaustive, account of Bernardino’s life and works is De Nicolò Salmazo 1989.
- See Wazbinski 1963 and especially Wazbinski 1966.
- The two drawings now at the Morgan came from different sources—one was acquired by Morgan in 1909 and the other by Janos Scholz in 1950—but both were once in the collection of Charles Fairfax Murray. The Scholz drawing was said (when sold by Colnaghi, London, in 1950) to have been in the collection of the Earls of Pembroke, and one wonders whether the Triumph of Jupiter was once in that collection as well.
- Triumph of Mars, Teylers Museum, Haarlem, inv. K III 7. See van Tuyll 2000, 64–65.
- Sacrificial Scene, Harvard University Art Museum, Cambridge, MA, inv. 1932.274. See Mongan and Sachs 1940, 1:20.
- Seated Prisoners and Trophies, with Victory Inscribing a Shield, British Museum, London, inv. 1919,0510.1. See London 1998, 77–78.
- Allegory of a Roman Triumph, Christ Church Picture Gallery, Oxford, inv. 0267; and An Allegory (Hercules at the Crossroads?), Christ Church Picture Gallery, Oxford, inv. 0268. See Byam Shaw 1976, 1:186–87.
- Triumphal Procession with Oxen, private collection; see Windows 2017.
- Windows 2017.
- There is considerable disagreement not only regarding the attributions of the groups, but even regarding which drawings are in each group. De Nicolò Salmazo 1989, 38n39, argues that the Morgan Triumphal Procession with Elephant and the Teylers Triumph of Mars were by the same artist, who is not Bernardino but who might be the artist responsible for the so-called Mantegna Sketchbook in Berlin. Farinella 1999, 253n28, rejects the connection with the Berlin sketchbook, but he also accepts the Teylers drawing as by Bernardino while arguing that the Morgan Triumphal Procession is by another artist. Windows 2017, 302, suggests that the Morgan Triumphal Procession and the Teylers Triumph of Mars are by the same artist, who is not Bernardino. Neither De Nicolò Salmazo nor Farinella makes any mention of the Triumph of Jupiter.
- On the print, Bartsch 1978–, 25:444–47, no. 005; see Emison 1985.
- See Ruhmer 1958.
- Van Tuyll 2000, 65.
- I am grateful to Zoe Watnik for her help in clarifying the subject.
Rhoda Eitel-Porter and and John Marciari, Italian Renaissance Drawings at the Morgan Library & Museum, New York, 2019, no. 13.
Selected references: Fairfax Murray 1905-12, 1: no. 80; Mongan and Sachs 1940, 1:20; Byam Shaw 1968, 12; Windows 2017, 298, 302.
Collection J. Pierpont Morgan : Drawings by the Old Masters Formed by C. Fairfax Murray. London : Privately printed, 1905-1912, I, 80, repr.
Formerly attributed to Liberale da Verona, Verona 1445-1527/9 Verona, and Anonymous Italian Schools of Ferrara and the North.